Top 10 Love Stories in Movie History
10. Harry Lime and Anna Schmidt from The Third Man
The Third Man is not a movie you would probably ever think to watch on Valentine’s Day. It’s defiantly not a “chick flick”. The Third Man is essentially a film noir. You have an American writer(Joseph Cotten) chasing down his old friend and black market profiteer, Harry Lime(Orson Welles). Oh yeah, there’s a girl there too. The love interest of the two male leads is Anna Schmidt(Alida Valli). Though unfortunately for Joseph Cotten’s character(who is named Holly Martins by the way) she just happens to be Harry Lime’s former girlfriend. The entire love story plot points the viewer to the conclusion that the good guy will win over his nemesis’ past flame. Well, after the eventual death of the evil Harry Lime, it’s perfectly obvious that there’s nothing standing in Holly and Anna’s way. Except, Anna never loved Holly. At the end of the movie we see Joseph Cotten at the funeral for his former friend waiting for his dream girl, but the normal Hollywood ending of the two heroes running into each other’s arms doesn’t happen. Anna just keeps walking by without saying a word. Despite the two characters never sharing a single frame, the love story here was always between the girl and the bad guy.
9. Jack Foley and Karen Sisco from Out of Sight
The most recent movie to make the list. Easily the least appreciated at the time of it’s release of any of the selected movies, Out of Sight has gained some measure of cult status due to the rise of both stars George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez and director Steven Soderbergh. The movie is pretty simple. Boy meets girl, sparks fly and they fall in love. There’s only one problem. Our boy is a bank robber and our girl is a federal marshall. Meet Jack Foley and Karen Sisco. Two people on a collision course with each other and the lives they’ve chosen. Truly a slick and clever movie, I suggest anyone who hasn’t seen this movie to do so. Despite the hype the movie has gotten since it’s 1998 release, I’ve yet to mention the movie to someone who has actually seen it. Hey, I promise you it’s the best movie J-Lo has ever been in!
8. Milton Warden and Karen Holmes/Robert E. Lee Prewitt and Alma Burke from From Here to Eternity
The wording of the selection might look like a tie, but I wouldn’t call it that exactly. The dual love stories of the Best Picture winner of 1953 are almost inseparable. The connections are the same. In both cases you have the idealistic solider hooking up with the more “experienced” older woman. I couldn’t really pick one above the other. Both are amazingly romantic and tragic. Each romance deals with death and forbidden love. Whether it be because of marriage or money the two couples are doomed from the beginning. Knowing this, you still root for them all the same. One of the great movies of all time, From Here to Eternity has two really great love stories, but what even surpasses that greatness is the performances of the four leads. Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed all give career performances in this classic.
7. Westley and Buttercup from The Princess Bride
“As you wish.” Without a doubt The Princess Bride is the sweetest movie on the list. Every bit of a fairy tale, the movie is pure magic. The core of the movie however are those “kissing parts”. Despite all the humor and brilliance of Andre the Giant, this movie is about true love. I think the thing that I like best about this movie is that from the beginning both Westley and Buttercup are in love. All the rest of the movies on this list are either about lost love or finding it. The Princess Bride is about keeping it. You are never in doubt when watching this beautiful fantasy that the two main characters have true love, or as Billy Crystal’s character would say “to blave”.
6. George Eastman and Angela Vickers from A Place in the Sun
Those of you who have seen A Place in the Sun might see this selection as a little morbid. After all George Eastman(Montgomery Clift) does kill his pregnant girl friend to protect his new found love for Angela Vickers(a very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor). If The Princess Bride was about true love A Place in the Sun might be the exact opposite. George Eastman no doubt feels love Angela Vickers, but it’s not because they have such a strong connection. Growing up a poor boy Angela is everything Eastman has ever wanted. She’s beautiful, smart and most importantly very rich. One little problem is the plain girl Eastman had a fling with before he entered Angela’s world. Oh yeah, and she’s pregnant. When his old fling threatens to ruin his new found life and love Eastman sees only one choice. If he is to be with Angela the pregnant girl has to be removed from the equation. As tragic of a events that as has ever been told, it’s still a love story. Killing for love. Is there anything more romantic? Yeah, probably…..
5. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind
The probable #1 on some lists, I choose to rank it a little lower. Gone with the Wind is the second best movie this list, but the love story does not rank #2. While it can feel like watching problems between the “cool kids”, Rhett and Scarlett is as famous of a love story as you’re likely to find. Two people so egomaniacal and selfish they just have to be together. Well, at least one character realizes this before the 3 hour mark. The minute Rhett Butler(Clark Gable) meets Scarlett O’Hara(Vivien Leigh) he’s in love. She’s spirited and alive. Never the “lady” that Rhett finds so boring. The problem is Scarlett can never seem to get her best friend’s husband, Ashley, out of her mind. While she pines and at sometimes chases another woman’s husband, we as an audience can see who Scarlett really belongs with, but will she ever see it herself?
4. C.C. ‘Bud’ Baxter and Fran Kubelik from The Apartment
The #1 pick for nice guys everywhere. In truth it’s probably more of a fantasy than Star Wars. Baxter(Jack Lemmon) is the every man. Just trying to make something of himself at the insurance company he works, he gives into giving favors to his many bosses. The favors are simply to let them take their girlfriends to his apartment. Nothing much ever seems to come of these favors until one day that favor is asked of him by the main boss(Fred MacMurray). Giving into his boss’ demands means that he’ll get a big promotion, but it also means that Baxter will have to sit back and watch his boss have an affair with his mistress whom Baxter has fallen ever so much in love with. Who does the girl choose? The ruthless bad guy or the sweet nice guy? Hey, movies are supposed to be escapism right? If so, this is truly beautiful escapism.
3. Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund from Casablanca
Okay,obviously everyone’s #1. I’m not going to be that cliché! Leave no doubt in your mind, Casablanca is far and away the best movie on this list, but does it include the best love story? Obviously Rick and Ilsa stands as film’s all time love story, but what do we have to know why they love each other? The heart of the love story is a little shallow. They just love each because they do! I guess you could find a flaw in the Mona Lisa if you wanted to see one. While I may be a little reluctant to join the pack and hail this as the greatest love story of all time, you would not be wrong to select it as such. Casablanca is the essential movie, and it may very well be the essential love story. The next two selections are also amazingly lovely. I will just say it one more time. Casablanca is the best movie on this list.
2. Yuri Zhivago and Lara Antipova from Doctor Zhivago
If you want to see a tragic love story look no further. Set amongst the Russian revolution, Doctor Zhivago’s love story is light in a world of darkness. Our main characters aren’t supposed to love each other. Yuri is rich and Lara is poor. Both are married to someone else, but even though they fight the intial urge, they can’t help but to fall into each other’s arms. It seems they are the only happiness for each other in an existence of nothing but pain. With a story such as this the end result obviously cannot be a happy one. The two lovers last scene together is one of the saddest I’ve ever seen. After being separated because of the political climate they live with Yuri sees Lara walking along a street from his seat in a streetcar. He rushes off the car only to have a heart attack before he can get Lara’s attention. Lara’s greatest love dies behind her and she never knows. She continues on to wherever she might be going. As if to symbolize the dream the two were chasing that was so close, but just a little too far away.
1. Joe Bradley and Princess Ann from Roman Holiday
It had to be Audrey! The most exquisite movie star to ever be, this was Audrey Hepburn’s first lead role. She plays Princess Ann. A girl on the verge of being a woman who has never experienced life beyond her royal duties. In this bittersweet tale, she escapes for a day in Rome pretending to be anyone but herself. Along the way she meets reporter Joe Bradley who eventually recognizes her and the huge opportunity that has fallen in his lap. If he can string her along pretending to be anyone but a reporter he can make a fortune! What follows is a day of fun and friendship. See, the two never have sex. They start the day under the pretext of being friends. When night falls they have become more. While sitting on a bench in the pouring rain the two passionately kiss finally making the leap to a romantic entity. Unfortunately for the two Anna is still a Princess, and has responsibilities. The last scene of the movie may be in my top 5 ever. Anna has returned to her life as a Princess and is meeting the media. Joe, being a reporter, is there. Anna greets Joe as she does every other reporter. After all to Princess Anna why would he be any different? The movie ends with Joe walking out of the media room by himself and Anna returning to her life as royalty. Their love story lasted less than 24 hours, and they could never end up together. Sad, but ever so romantic.